With a rapidly growing command and understanding of the "River" and "White Fire" magic, Varis was able to depose Amenkor's erratic and possibly insane Mistress Eryn at the conclusion of the first novel in the trilogy. A former street urchin looked down upon by all as "gutterscum", nobody is more surprised than Varis to discover that she is now forced to assume the role of new Mistress.
During much of the opening portion of the book, we are witness to Varis's attempts to apply her best judgment, sadly tempered by inexperience, youth and naïveté, to the exigencies of the government of Amenkor - restocking their dwindling food supplies and determining which of her advisers can be trusted and which need to be carefully watched for their well-hidden malfeasance. The most urgent, compelling task which she faces is the shoring up of Amenkor's deteriorated defences against the coming of the Chorl, an implacable, brutal, devastating and unstoppable enemy which she has seen in a vision as razing Amenkor to its very foundations.
In the final portion of the book, we see a much more accomplished Varis draw on the strengths and magical abilities of all of the former leaders of Amenkor, whether strong or weak, whether honest or venal, whether friend or foe, whose spirits and memories are embodies in the Throne, now revealed to be much more than a mere regal resting place for the current Mistress. The anticipated assault by the Chorl has arrived and it falls to Varis to prevent the Armageddon that she has seen in her vision from actually coming to pass.
While the first half of the book dealing with Varis's growth in the role of Mistress is well-written and, to be sure, absolutely necessary for the development of the entire plot, it seemed somehow slow-moving, considerably less than compelling and lacking in a certain intensity. But have patience ... once the Chorl arrive and the battle for control of Amenkor begins, the entire book picks up that breathless pacing that every fantasy reader loves.
Who has lived, who has died and how Varis will fare in the very dubious aftermath of the clearing smoke and debris of an ambiguous battle will be dealt with in the final instalment of the trilogy, THE VACANT THRONE. And I'm certainly looking forward to it.
Highly recommended. But don't forget, THE CRACKED THRONE is the SECOND book in a trilogy and it will not stand alone. Go back to the beginning and start with THE SKEWED THRONE.
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About the reviewer
Paul Weiss (cpw1952)
A modern day dilettante with widely varied eclectic interests. A dabbler in muchbut grandmaster of none - wilderness camping in all four seasons, hiking, canoeing, world travel,philately, … more
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